DONATED CAR HELPS BRIDGEPORT TECH PROGRAM
BRIDGEPORT — As the black 2016 Nissan Murano zoomed into the Bullard Haven Technical High School automotive shop bay, some 64 prospective mechanics were there to welcome it.
“You going to hand me the keys?” Roxanne Amoit, head of the automotive department shouted over the claps and whistles.
Ben Foss, a dealer technical specialist for Nissan North America obliged. And thus began a partnership this week between a tech school hungry to give students the latest technology and an auto manufacturer in need of more experienced technicians.
“It benefits everybody,” said Foss, who grew up in Milford, and now works for the Nashville, Tenn.-based U.S. division of the Japanese car maker.
Until now, students have had about eight used vehicles on lifts in the auto shop, some rusty. None with tire pressure monitoring systems, program navigation or advance electrical or climate control systems on which to work.
“We still build the same vehicle, the same technology as our 2018’s,” Foss said of the fully-functional SUV, that boasts about 25 computers on board and just 29,000 miles on the odometer.
The donation is said to be worth about $30,000.
“Now we can teach the technology they talk about,” Amoit said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
One of Bullard Havens more popular shops, the automotive program prepares some students for jobs right out of high school and others for higher education.
On Wednesday, students at the shop were treated to a career fair where 13 area car dealers, manufacturers, and auto repair shops interviewed students for potential jobs and internships.
Foss got the students ready the day before, advising them how to go into interviews with confidence.
“Make it clear you want to become master technician,” Foss told them. “You have to sell yourself, but they have to sell it back. Ask them what kind of advancement and continuing education they are willing to provide.”
Prisila Barroso, a senior from Bridgeport, said she is a little jealous underclassmen will get to work on the Nissan but she is also looking forward to perhaps getting a job at a local dealership.
“I’m ready,” Barroso said.
Brandon Spinks, 16, a sophomore from Bridgeport, said he can’t wait to get under the hood of the new acquisition.
“I love to learn the different mechanical things about it,” said Spinks. “It’s like putting together a puzzle.”
Foss said Nissan likes to give used cars to technical high schools where students graduate with a much higher skill set than traditional automotive programs. It has previously donated vehicles to Platt Tech in Milford.